Air Peace has refuted claims made by Hadi Sirika, former minister of aviation, that it lost $19 million from parking two leased Boeing 777 aircraft for several months.
In a statement on Monday, signed by Toyin Olajide, chief operating officer (COO), the airline said the claims made by the minister were spurious.
Yesterday, Sirika discussed issues relating to Nigeria Air and the country’s general aviation sector on Arise TV.
“Nigerians can remember when I stood up for Air Peace and ensured they must be going to Dubai. Are they going now? No! Why? No capacity,” He had said.
The former minister also said Air Peace “leased two Boeing 777 aircraft on a monthly lease fee of $250,000, parked the aircraft for several months and incurred losses of $19 million while all the aircraft engines and landing gears became due for replacement when we were ready to fly”.
‘Blatant Lie’ — Air Peace Replies Sirika On Claim Of Losing $19m From Leased Aircraft
Speaking on the allegations in the statement, Olajide said the airline has three Boeing 777 aircraft, which it purchased outrightly.
“This is a blatant lie as we have three and not two Boeing 777 aircraft which were never leased or rented, but were purchased outrightly by the airline,” she said.
“Air Peace never incurred such a loss, we never paid rentals contrary to his lies. The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) can attest to the purchase and ownership of the aircraft by Air Peace.”
Also responding to the allegation that the airline stopped flying to Dubai because of a lack of capacity, the COO said “Air Peace never stopped the Dubai operations because of lack of capacity”.
She said the airline commenced operations into the UAE in July, 2019, but in October 2022, the UAE government announced a total visa ban on Nigerians,” she said.
“Neither Emirates nor Air Peace is operating the Nigerian/UAE route since the ban. The persisting non-issuance of visas and the accompanying inconveniences necessitated the suspension of our Dubai operations from November 22, 2022, till date.
“For the former minister to ascribe the suspension to ‘lack of capacity’ is not only shocking but also shows how keen he is to disparage an airline which (sic) ascendancy has defied all the commercial odds and hostile environment placed on its path to continue to serve our nation proudly.
“How could an airline that placed a firm order for 13 brand new E2-195 aircraft, a firm order of 15 Boeing 737 Max 8 and Max 10, with over 30 aircraft already in its existing fleet be accused of lacking in capacity?
“How can an airline that stood up for the entire nation during the Covid-19 outbreak, and embarked on rescue operations worldwide, evacuating Nigerians from faraway China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India, UK, and South Africa during the Covid-19 lockdowns be accused of lacking in capacity?
“We implore the general public to disregard these lies told by the former minister of aviation against Air Peace during the Arise TV Interview.”